The small community at the Grace Baptist Christian Academy in Attleboro is in shock after learning that Jeffrey Nichols, a beloved teacher, youth pastor, and coach, admitted to police he sexually assaulted a student on school grounds.
"He can't be trusted around little kids now. I wouldn't trust him around my daughter right now," one parent who has known Nichols for years said as he dropped off his kids.
According to the police report Nichols began molesting the girl when she was just 13 continuing until age 18. Nichols confided in his boss Monday, and was fired immediately.
"I basically said to him, go home, and get your stuff in order. I said you are going to turn yourself into police first thing in the morning. I said if you don't I will turn you in," said Jeff Bailey, Senior Pastor at the Church and superintendent of the school.
Nichols' family is heavily involved in the school. His wife teaches second grade. His son, a senior, is classmates with the alleged victim. The pastor says no one saw this coming.
"We have the right policies in place, the problem we had is that the person that I had put in charge of enforcing those policies was the perpetrator," said Bailey.
"He was a good guy. Very good. I have nothing bad to say about him except he made a mistake," said one parent.
Nichols, 47, pleaded not guilty in court. ABC6 News went to his home on Fourth Street.
Nichols and a woman, believed to be his wife, answered the door, but had no comment.
The school has notified parents and students and is trying to determine whether there are other victims. They are reaching out to alumni to make sure nothing like this happened in the past.
The school is working with the female student who came forward to help her earn her diploma without having to be in the school building.